Lee Valley Tools Gardening Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 2
April 2007
Big Color, Small Budget

I confess: I am addicted to color. My passion is intense eye-grabbing combinations of plants that look good over a long period of time. If you want lots of color in your garden, but have a small budget, read on. Hopefully you can benefit from my experience growing a country garden under tough conditions in southern Ontario, Canada (United States Department of Agriculture zone 5; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada zone 6a).

The plants I list below are the ones that have thrived and provided lots of color for their price. They may be some of the best investments you can make for your own colorful garden.

But first, a tip: opt for double-duty plants. Flowering plants are often picked for the color of their blooms alone. In my garden, I demand more – you should too. Why not enjoy the leaf color, the texture and the shape of the whole plant while you wait for the blooms?

Worthwhile annuals to buy each year
Plants typically grown in containers often do even better in your garden.

  • Wave petunia (Petunia x hybrida): A prolific grower, it can fill quite a large area
  Petunias in bloom.
New Avalanche and Wave varieties of petunias (white and fuchsia flowers, right) will cover a large area with a blanket of flowers.
  • Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas): Its color can be lime green, blackish-red or tricolor (pink, white and green). This plant looks great as both a complement and a contrast to other colors in the garden.
  • Geranium (Pelargonium): Try some of the types with variegated foliage, which have beautiful patterns on their leaves in shades of yellow, pink or red. They also sprout vibrantly colored flowers.
  • Tropicana (Canna x generalis 'Tropicana'): It has orange-, green- and scarlet-striped leaves and grows up to two metres tall. Hummingbirds love its intense-hued orange blooms. This plant grows and multiplies so well, you will want to keep it over winter in a frost-free place.
  • Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'): Showy burgundy leaves complement the pinkish-purple foxtail blooms that cover this elegant, but expensive, grass.

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